Can You Eat Shallots Raw?

Fozia Sherazi, Dr of Dietetics and Nutritional Sciences

Written by Fozia Sherazi, Dr of Dietetics and Nutritional Sciences. Updated on March 12, 2023.

Allium cepa var. aggregatum, more often known as shallots, are multi-cloved bulbs members of the Amaryllidaceae family. Other members of this family include leeks, garlic, and onions.

The flavor of shallots is milder than that of other members of the Amaryllidaceae family and is often described as a combination of onion and garlic.

There are numerous distinct types of shallots; currently, about a dozen are farmed for commercial purposes worldwide.

Western and Eastern shallots are two subgroups of these cultivars that differ in flavor and appearance.

Shallots were present in some of the earliest paintings, and they were used in dishes of all types by the Romans, who even had a unique name: “cepa,” which translates to “onion.”

Traders brought them to other parts of the world, notably India, Egypt, Persia, and the Mediterranean.

The ancient Greeks gave shallots their name after discovering them in the old Palestinian city of Ashkelon and naming them after the town.

The crusaders who returned to Europe from the Middle East in the eleventh century brought the first shallots to Europe.

With their mild flavor, shallots were quickly adopted by Europeans as a substitute for garlic, which was unavailable in some regions.

The word shallot comes from the French escalogne and the Latin Ascalonia caepa. Allium cepa aggregatum is the Latin name for shallots.

They are also called Allium ascalonicum, from where they were first grown, Ashkelon in Palestine.

Shallots were the first onion that could be grown from seed, giving them an advantage over other onions.

This allowed them to grow in colder climates where other onions could not survive. Shallots have become an essential part of many diets worldwide and can be used in many recipes.

Shallots are versatile vegetables that can be eaten raw or cooked and are an essential ingredient in many dishes, from soups and salads to stews and stir-fries.

Can You Eat Shallots Raw?

Shallots can be eaten raw or cooked. They are mild and subtly flavored onion-like vegetable that adds flavor to dishes without being too overpowering.

Raw shallots have a crispy texture and mild onion-like flavor, adding a subtle hint of sweetness to salads, sandwiches, dips, and sauces. They can be diced and added to salsa, guacamole, and other dips for extra flavor.

Cooked shallots have a more mellow flavor than raw ones, adding a mild, onion-like taste to soups, stews, casseroles, stir-fries, and other dishes.

To prepare shallots for raw consumption or cooking, begin by peeling off the outer skin and then slicing or dicing them to the desired size.

Once sliced or diced, the shallots can be used raw in salads, sandwiches, dips, and sauces.

Shallots range from small to large depending on the cultivar and have an elongated, oblong form with rounded center and pointed ends.

The bulbs have a thin, dry, papery skin that peels off when touched and can be golden, pink, or red. When the papery coverings are peeled, many clusters of cloves consisting of individually wrapped pieces, similar to garlic, are revealed.

Most small shallot varieties have between two and three cloves, and most large shallot varieties have between three and six cloves.

The flesh is solid, thick, semi-dry, off-white to transparent, with faint purple or crimson bands. Shallots are fragrant with a complex combination of peppery, tart, and pungent tastes.

When the cloves are raw, they are crisp and bitter, but when they are cooked, they become soft, sweet, and savory, with a taste similar to garlic.

Benefits of Eating Shallots Raw

Eating raw shallots offers a wide range of nutritional and health benefits. They are rich in antioxidants, which can help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.

Shallots are also packed with vitamins and minerals such as C, B6, manganese, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Eating shallots raw provides numerous health benefits, such as improved digestion, a boosted immune system, lower cholesterol levels, and an increased intake of vitamins and minerals.

Some health benefits of eating raw shallots are mentioned below:

Improved Lipid Profile

Eating raw shallots can also help to improve your lipid profile, which is the cholesterol ratio in your bloodstream.

Shallots contain compounds such as quercetin and allicin, antioxidants that help reduce inflammation, bad cholesterol, and triglycerides.

This, in turn, can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and other health issues related to high cholesterol levels.

Anti-cancer Properties

Eating raw shallots may also have anti-cancer properties because of their sulfur-containing compounds.

These compounds have been linked to suppressing the growth of specific cancer cells, such as those found in the lungs, breast, liver, and colon.

These sulfur-containing compounds are believed to reduce cancer risk by activating specific genes that can slow tumor growth.

Research has also suggested that these compounds can help induce apoptosis (cell death) in specific cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

Anti-inflammatory Properties

In addition to their potential cancer-fighting properties, sulfur-containing compounds may also have anti-inflammatory effects.

Studies have shown that sulfur-containing compounds can reduce inflammation and help treat various inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and autoimmune disorders. Sulfur-containing compounds have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat inflammation and other health conditions.

Side Effects of Eating Shallots Raw

Raw shallots may cause stomach upset and other gastrointestinal issues, such as indigestion, nausea, and gas. This is likely due to sulfur compounds, which can be difficult for the body to break down.

Other side effects of eating shallots raw include an unpleasant taste in the mouth, and an increased risk of tooth decay, as the high levels of sulfur can erode enamel over time.


Shallots are multiple-cloved bulbs belonging to the family Amaryllidaceae. Ancient Greeks named shallots after discovering them in the old Palestinian city of Ashkelon.

The skin on the bulbs is thin, dry, and papery, peeling off when touched.

When shallots are cooked, they give soups and stews a mild onion flavor.

When sliced or diced, shallots can be used raw in various dishes, including salads, sandwiches, dips, and sauces.

Eating raw shallots has many health benefits, such as better digestion and a stronger immune system.

In addition, they include substances that lower inflammation, bad cholesterol, and triglycerides in the body. These compounds have been associated with inhibiting the proliferation of some kinds of cancer cells.

Eating shallots raw may cause undesirable side effects like an upset stomach or a burning sensation in the mouth and throat.

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